For the first time in a long time, a familiar name in Chautauqua County will not be returning on the ballot this Election Day. Jamestown’s second longest serving mayor, Samuel Teresi, will not be seeking nor accepting re-election.
Mayor Teresi explained his decision to the Jamestown Gazette: “You get to a point in a lot of things where you just know it’s time to move on and do something else, the same way you know the time is right going in to pursue the position. It felt right, it’s time to move onto something else that might have a contributing benefit. We’ve been able to achieve a lot of what we came in looking to do, and we feel satisfied that we’re leaving the city in a much better position in a variety of different areas than how we found it, and that should always be the objective for any job or any venture you are engaging into.”
Gazette: Teresi will not be running for any other office, but instead plans on gearing toward community service and volunteer work.
Mayor Teresi: “It’s like the saying goes, ‘I have no plans and no plans to make plans.’ That doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t find a way to engage in public service or to help the community, but there are other ways to do that than an elected public service. One thing I am certain of is no matter what I do moving forward here, it will have a strong element of public service to it. Giving back. That’s the way I was raised, and that’s the way I’ve flown my whole adult life. I think what I’ll do is just take some time off. My wife just retired last year after 35 years as a teacher so now she’s taking some time and catching her breath, and I’ll probably be doing a bit of that myself.”
Gazette: What accomplishments are you most proud of in your near two-decade term serving Jamestown?
Mayor Teresi: “I know it sounds trite but it’s not my accomplishment. One person can make a difference, they just can’t do it by themselves. If you can engage and inspire others to adopt your agenda and work with you, there is nothing you can’t do, because you can accomplish a heck of a lot more in a group than you can on your own. In some cases, I’ve been the instigator, in some cases I’ve been the motivator, and in some I’ve rolled up my sleeves and was the one looking for resources. I am very, very proud of and pleased with the work that not only I have done, but that we have done as a community. The thing I’m most proud of is not exactly what happened, but how it happened. It was a total community effort, and that’s what happens when people work together. Like the old adage says, if you want to go fast, go alone. And if you want to go far, go together. That’s what we’ve been doing here.”
Gazette: What factors have been most important in your decisions to run in the past, and to what do you hold himself accountable?
Mayor Teresi: “Do twice as much listening as you do talking. With my job, you have to do a lot of talking with people and talking about things, but only do that after I have done a heck of a lot of reading, of listening, and learning. The second quality is, never forget where you came from and what you are trying to accomplish. Empathy plays a big part of that. You need to step into other people’s shoes and treat every concern and issue out there as if it were happening across the street from you or happening next door to you, because it is happening across the street and next door to somebody else. Lastly, you need to engage with the people within your community and other communities, and that is what I intend to do even after I am no longer in office. We listen, and everybody gets answer. Listening and being engaged is critically important.”
“The test and the sign of a good leader or manager isn’t how well things work when you’re there, but how well they work when you’re not. Meaning whether you are sick a couple days, or when you are finally at the end of your tenure, things don’t fall apart.”
Gazette: What is your advice for those running in this upcoming election and for people to consider in their everyday lives?
“As bad as things may seem day to day, they are always worse for someone else. There is always someone who has it worse off than you do. Understand that. Also, there is nothing, given time, that can’t be accomplished if you bring the right group of people together and if you put your mind to it. The other thing, is don’t let the doomsayers and naysayers get you down, because there are many more positive people out there, than there are miserable, negative people. You need to listen to and be aware of the negative concerns so that hopefully you can do something about it, but the vast majority of people out there want good things to happen. In this day of social media, it can be so easy to drag people down into the sub-gutter level. Communicate through social media, but do not become a slave to it, because it will drive you literally crazy.”
Gazette: Do you have any final words for our readers based on your long experience as Mayor of Jamestown?
“I’ve always loved my city, this is home, I think this is a wonderful place. I was born here, I was raised here, lived my life here, raised my kids here, this is where I’m going to leave this Earth, and as long as people continue working together and staying positive, this place has unlimited opportunities.”